2009-10 Orlando Magic Season Preview
Last season for the Orlando Magic (59- 23) was magical as they went all the way to the NBA Finals for the first time in 14 years. They did it on the strong back of center Dwight Howard (20.8 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 1.4 APG), the three-point mastery of guard Jameer Nelson (45%) and forward Rashard Lewis (40%) and some of the best foul shooting in the NBA. Howard created massive matchup problems, forcing teams to double him and opening up the three-point shot; or clubs decided to single team him and increase his chances of taking it to the basket and scoring. But it all came to an end when the club met the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. Can the Magic make it back to the Finals a second year straight? That’s tough for any team to do. The thing about Orlando is that the organization did not sit still during the off-season. They added firepower and depth that will help them in their championship quest.
The frontcourt will be missing Hedo Turkoglu as he’s now a member of the Toronto Raptors. Tony Battie is also gone. Still, the Magic have a tough frontcourt that is led by Howard. Howard is a massive guy with massive talent and skills. His inside scoring can blow teams away and his rebounding can be dominant. On defense, he averaged a hefty 3.0 BPG. Joining him are small forward Rashard Lewis (17.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.6 APG) and power forward Brandon Bass (8.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.5 APG). Forward Matt Barnes (10.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.8 APG) adds depth to the squad.
The point will be controlled by Jamer Nelson (16.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.4 APG). Nelson, who missed 40 games last season with a bum shoulder, came back in time for the playoffs. Although he can be slow of foot and weak on defense, Nelson is an excellent on-court leader and fine setup man. Joining him at the shooting spot will be Vince Carter (20.8 PP, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG). Although he’s slowing down, Carter can certainly still play. He appeared in 80 games last season, hitting from the field 44% of the time, from downtown 39% and from the charity stripe 82%. Swingman Mickael Pietrus (9.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.2 APG) is a stable backup.
Orlando possesses so many pluses that it’s tough to pinpoint their biggest strength. Defense is definitely one of them and their ability to knock down threes is also topnotch. Weaknesses are also difficult to find. Offensive rebounding has been a big problem and that impossible-to-stop one-on-one scoring machine has also been missing.
A Stan Van Gundy team is definitely a club that has been coached, sometimes relentlessly. Van Gundy, who was Orlando’s second choice for the headman spot in 2007, has proven to be a good fit. He helped turn Dwight Howard into the league’s Defensive MVP Player of the Year, toughened up the club so they became tenacious on the road and made connections with players by bringing in NBA Hall of Fame player Patrick Ewing as an assistant. The Magic, with upgrades, will score even more points than they did last season, take their division and finish near the top of the Eastern Conference.